In May 2013, work began in Muyebe Village to restore the community water supply through the renovation of the community’s reservoir, break tanks, pipe distribution and water point network. The project was implemented by Just a Drop’s local partner Africa Equipment for Schools (AES) and was sponsored by First Rate Exchange Services.
Muyebe Village is located in Kabale district, a very poor region of Uganda. The vast majority of the people are subsistence farmers, who live in the rural areas of the mountains. The land is heavily fragmented due to overpopulation which has resulted in the clearing of alpine shrubs and eucalyptus forests. The land is divided into small plots with women finding work by moving between the plots, often from one side of a mountain to another, digging for the owners. The main crops are potatoes, sweet potatoes, cabbages, sorghum, peas, finger millet, bananas and pineapples, none of which attract high prices. Some villagers work in timber cutting, brick making and stone quarrying.
The village primary schools enrol students between the ages of six to 18 years old. However, seasonal agriculture and daily water collection often stops many from attending classes. Many young boys will drop out from primary school to break rocks into aggregates and girls, some as young as 14, are often married at an early age in exchange for money. As a result the district of Kabale has a literacy rate of just 47%.
Girls are the main water carriers for the family and are expected to fill the jerry cans before walking to school each day. Girls can be seen struggling to carry the water home as early as six in the morning, when it is still dark.
When the nearby tap-stand was working, the girls would return with clear, clean mountain water which they will have queued up for. If the tap wasn’t working, or they couldn’t wait any longer, they would go to the local stream or pond and return with cloudy water, swimming with insects. While waiting to fill their jerry cans, they also risked being bitten by mosquitos. Often the girls were then late for school, and, rather than be reprimanded by the teacher, they hid in the bushes risking unwanted attention of unemployed youths and old men, before tagging along behind friends as if they had been to school all day.
On inspection it was clear that the existing gravity water system needed many repairs. The sources all needed to be re-clayed and directed into the first reservoir to gather as much water as possible. Then the reservoirs and break tanks also needed repairing, waterproofing and reconnecting to the system.
Gate valves had to be installed to enable closures and pressure reductions for cleaning and maintenance. Several stretches of the system’s pipe were missing, leaving sections of the system dry for many years.
Others had leaks repaired with plastic bags wrapped and tied around. There were no means of regulating the amount of water flowing through the system. The cattle troughs and sorghum pits were all completely dry.
A team of eight from Just a Drop’s local partner AES worked throughout the project, employing a further five local trenchers. These were local people who came with a recommendation from the Chairman of the village. A cook was also employed as the labourers required food twice in the working day as part of their wages which meant work continued at a good pace.
Work began first at the source and the three collection tanks there were all repaired (the nearby tap, sorghum pit and cattle trough). The leak between the source and reservoir needed new piping to ensure plenty of water entered the system. Now the huge reservoir is full (it has been almost 10 years since this reservoir was last full) and it seems that clothes washing was the way in which the community chose to celebrate!
Work continued with the installation of gate valves, gate valve housings and metal lids – to keep out dirt and insects. Two new taps were also constructed as well as the repair and refurbishment of the old tap stands. The taps by the two schools were repaired and the primary school was given straight guttering and new connections to its rainwater harvesting tank.
The beneficiaries provided accommodation to the eight members of the AES team throughout the duration of the works, plus the senior school securely stored rolls of pipes, bags of cement and two workers’ motorbikes.
The ‘crazy’ tap
Previous to project works the so called ‘crazy tap’ went through several mutations by the community, with pieces of hose pipe and string, and later a plastic water bottle. It has now been reconstructed into a proper tap stand.
A small wall has been constructed around the tap to stop the area becoming so muddy as children can slip easily on this when carrying heavy jerry-cans.
There is an outlet pipe running into a soakaway pit too.
Teachers hope that pupils will be able to come to school cleaner and healthier than before. It is hoped that children will now spend less time collecting water and more time at school. Everyone is expecting to see a huge improvement in the health of the whole community.
“This is the first time in 10 years when we have not had to search around for water in the dry season. We are so happy and want to say a big ‘Thank you’ to everyone concerned. Praise be to God.” Geoffrey, teacher.
“I live with grandparents, I don’t have parents. I use water for cooking and drinking, my grandmother uses it for washing. It’s good to have water.” Natasha Kyarisima age 12, Muyebe P6.
“Water is so good, we are happy when we have it.” Mrs Lowence Banga, Nyagwangara settlement.
Our sincere thanks to First Rate Exchange Services for making this project possible.
Date of Project: September 2013